LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Review

Richard Walker

A brooding and complex hero, Batman isn't referred to as The Dark Knight for nothing. But in LEGO Batman, he's the star of his very own gleefully colourful romp, and LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is perhaps the most bright, breezy and mirth-inducing instalment in the series yet, eschewing the dark corners of Gotham City (apart from an early visit to the sewers) for the vibrant Lantern planets and the exotic climes of Europe.

TT Games has been making LEGO titles for almost ten years now, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that its established formula might be starting to wear more than a little thin, but we'll be damned if they haven't gone and done it again. LEGO Batman 3 is never anything less than an exuberant joy to play, despite the fact that you'll have likely tread this familiar and well-worn ground several times already.


It's just not a Batman game without the Batcave.

For this third entry in the LEGO Batman series, we see the caped crusader and an expansive cast of more than 150 DC super heroes – the biggest LEGO roster yet – fighting deranged android Brainiac, whose nefarious plans threaten to destroy Earth. He wants to shrink the world's cities for his collection y'see, and it's up to you to stop him.

And as the story develops, you'll find the Justice League displaying the effects of the Lantern's personality traits, as heroes and villains unite for the common good. As stories go, LEGO Batman 3's starts off a little slow, but soon becomes immensely enjoyable, it's voice cast clearly game for a laugh, as DC's finest characters bounce between scenarios with an infectious level of energy that's impossible to resist.

Granted, the gameplay involves stringing together the same basic button mashing combos and breaking apart LEGO structures with a satisfying plasticky thud, while collecting endless streams of studs is still the order of the day. Yet it all still works beautifully. So beautifully that it almost defies conventional logic. We should be bored of this schtick by now, but we're not. Not one bit.

You don't even need an encyclopedic knowledge of DC Comics lore to enjoy LEGO Batman 3; its story stands on its own merits, blending a variety of challenges and light puzzles to great effect. Between each stage, you'll revisit a hub, of which there are several, with Conan O'Brien acting as your guide. Characters range from the popular, like Superman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Catwoman, Cyborg, Flash and so on, to the more obscure, like Condiment King, Music Meister, Toyman, Manchester Black and Detective Chimp. It's a DC fan's dream.


Conan and Superman chew the fat. Because reasons.

Again, it's the fantastic, unique animations of each and every character that injects life into LEGO Batman 3. It's Solomon Grundy running around with his arms outstretched, Green Lantern walking with a strange wiggle, the Flash jogging on the spot with unbounded energy. TT Games has gone the extra mile to imbue all 150 of LEGO Batman 3's cast with something that marks out each character as individual and a bit different, and it pays off.

In terms of locations, there's the Batcave, the Watchtower, the Hall of Justice (and the Hall of Doom) and once you happen upon the Moon Base, there are Lantern hub planets to explore too, offering a whole bunch of secrets. As ever, there's an almost unfathomable amount of hidden things to discover. You'll be playing for countless hours, especially if you're a completist. LEGO Batman 3 lends itself totally to reaching that elusive 100%.

You'll quickly learn that TT doesn't tend to stray too far from its LEGO template, but does manage to bring enough new stuff to the table, like the brilliantly realised Resogun-esque shmup sections or Flash's ability to rapidly combine several items joining the usual exploding of silver bricks or laser carving through gold bricks. Puzzle-solving remains enormously gratifying, and collecting all of the minikits, red bricks, gold bricks, unlockable characters and 'Adam West in Peril' locations will involve its fair share of sussing out which hero or villain to use, and how to use them.

That means jumping back in for a second playthrough in Free Play mode, selecting any one of the numerous characters you'll have unlocked. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and LEGO Batman 2's single open-world hub city – New York and Gotham, respectively - is out, while Lantern hub planets Odym, Oa, Zamaron, Qward, Nok, Okaara and Ysmault are in, as is the Moon, complete with moon cows for good measure. There's really no room to complain here. LEGO Batman 3 gives you more than enough bang for your buck.


Martian Manhunter – my new favourite LEGO DC character.

Trust us; LEGO Batman 3 is a gargantuan game, and the achievement list serves in encouraging you to explore almost every square inch of what's on offer. Achievements for completing each level, including the bonus 'Same Bat Time! Same Bat Channel!' 1960s Batman stage, are joined by some hugely enjoyable tasks, like discovering and visiting every hub planet, unearthing hidden easter eggs on each, or playing as certain characters and executing specific objectives with them. It's a genuinely great, albeit very easy, achievement list that extends the game's already massive run time by quite some margin.

Never anything less than an unbridled joy to play, TT Games has once again proved that it can make an ageing formula still feel fresh and inventive with LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. A cynical eye will see it as just another entry in the LEGO series, collecting studs, unlocking characters and bashing buttons, but cast your cynicism aside, and you'll discover a game that simply wants you to have fun from beginning to end. And it doesn't pretend to be anything else. It's impossible not to love LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham for what it is; a colourful and unashamedly entertaining adventure that you'll want to play again and again. It's brilliant.

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham sweeps away any doubts we might have had about TT Games' well-established template growing tiresome. It might start a little slow, yet the game is nothing but an absolute pleasure to play throughout. Pow!

Form widget
85%
Audio
80%

Guaranteed to raise a smile, whether it's the uniformly excellent voice work, or the Superman and Wonder Woman theme tunes that kick in when each character takes flight. Having the 1960s Batman TV show theme tune in there is fantastic too.

Visuals
80%

LEGO Batman 3's art style remains lovingly crafted and incredibly shiny, but it's the animations that make the game what it is. It's about as pretty as plastic blocks can possibly be.

Playability
80%

For the most part, LEGO Batman 3 sticks to TT Game's tried and tested formula, but there's enough new stuff all executed so expertly that it somehow feels fresh. Button mashing combat can grow repetitive, but that's really the only issue.

Delivery
90%

Quite possibly the biggest LEGO game yet, LEGO Batman 3 takes you through fifteen levels and multiple hubs and planets. With secrets and bonuses galore, there's really no shortage of content.

Achievements
80%

Another strong list from TT Games. It's perhaps not the most inventive we've seen, but it still fits the bill, encouraging exploration of everything the game has to offer.

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